Getting People to Reply to Those Critical Early Feedback Emails

Colleen and Michele dissect why people stopped replying to Colleen's welcome emails. Later, Michele dives into Jobs To Be Done.

Colleen Schnettler  0:00 
Hey listeners, Colleen here. This week I lead off discussing the positive uptick in my signup numbers, tempered by the fact that none of those new signups responded to my welcome email, Michele and I discussed what I'm doing wrong. And we also talked about how I should be prioritizing my time, every bootstrapper's most challenging problem, at least in the beginning. Michele talks about a detailed customer feedback email that brought her great joy. And we discussed the new book she is reading called Jobs To Be Done in the context of small business. Hope you enjoy the episode.

Colleen
So I have been keeping track of my numbers every week for how many people are signing up for my service. And this week, I had quite a few signups. I had 39. Yeah. This week, I had 38 new signups.

Michele Hansen  0:48 
Whoa.

Colleen Schnettler 
Yeah.

Michele Hansen
I how many were the previous week? The previous week?

Colleen Schnettler  0:53 
I had 18.

Michele Hansen  0:56 
Okay, so then the week before that,

Colleen Schnettler  0:59 
I just started recording the past few weeks.

Michele Hansen  1:05 
hey, that's almost 100% growth week over week for two weeks. That's That's pretty good. I mean, not long ago, you had, like 18 ish users total.

Colleen Schnettler  1:16 
Yeah, I'm really happy with the number of signups I'm getting, I think part of it might be because of the holiday break. I've noticed because my service is free. And it's in the Heroku marketplace. I get a lot of hobbyists. So I'm wondering if people are like trying it out because they have downtime. But I've also done a lot to improve the documentation. And so the other thing that has happened this week is a lot more people have actually converted. I think I mentioned a week or two ago that I was getting so many signups and then only like 10% of those people were actually using the single sign on to access their custom dashboard and install the JavaScript. And this week from those 3817 made it to single sign on, which is huge compared to the numbers I was seeing before. Yeah. So I'd like to believe it's because I've added more documentation so people know what it is. And, you know, we worked out did we do it on the podcast where we worked out some of the copy on my marketing page. Yeah, yeah. So some of the things we put where we like put numbers and we're like, here's the three step process. I'd like to believe that's, that's been part of the reason this is working and more people are converting.

Michele Hansen  2:30 
So you have what you would like to believe about why it's working. Have you asked anybody about that?

Colleen Schnettler  2:37 
Why can't I just say, Oh, they converted? Can I just go with what I'd like to believe?

Michele Hansen  2:42 
Hunches are great. But that's not a substitute for going out and finding the answer.

Colleen Schnettler  2:49 
I've had this great number of signups. But something else interesting has happened. And this is not good. So I think I mentioned answer my question. No, I don't know. No---

Michele Hansen  3:04 
I have tried not to talk over you. But you did not answer my question of whether you have tried to figure out know why people are converting that answer is -- and so as much as we need to figure out why people are canceling and why they're not converting. And we ask them a million questions about why you canceling why you're not doing this, why you're not doing that. We also need to ask them about why they are doing things so we can help more people do those things and find more people like them who will do those things.

Colleen Schnettler  3:31 
So this is interesting, because I've had all these signups and I mentioned last week that I was going to start doing transactional email like a welcome email. Since I have started the welcome email zero people have responded to it. Zero before when I was hand emailing people, like maybe 10 to 20% of people responded. So my professional looking welcome email with like a footer and branding seems to be turning people off.

Michele Hansen  4:01 
You can just do a plain text email. I think that's gonna be that there. That's more likely to get caught in a spam filter if it has graphics in it.

Colleen Schnettler  4:09 
Yeah, that's what I'm going to do. Because I was really surprised. I was like, Oh, I'm getting all these signups and these people are converting, not a single person has responded to an email.

Michele Hansen  4:18 
Plaintext tends to have better open rates than graphical email like this is why that most, if you've ever had them made the mistake of signing up for a political campaign's email list, you will notice that even the most well funded campaigns will have plain text emails. This is something the Obama campaign discovered and then just proliferated throughout the industry that the fewer images and formatting and everything in an email, the better open and response rates you're going to get from it because there's just fewer barriers to people getting the email and then you know, formatting and everything else in it. I send most of our especially feedback emails, I always send those out plain text.

Colleen Schnettler  5:06 
Yeah, I'm going to, that's my next step. Because I was really surprised to see such a poor response. Now, it's kind of a little bit funny, maybe not funny. So when I went to get my transactional email set up, for some reason, I got kicked out of Sendgrid. And that was just I don't really know what happened. So I'm actually sending it from my Gmail. So I don't have open rates right now. So I can't see how many people are actually opening it. But I am going to get that sorted out. And I like the idea of going plain text because no one is responding right now. So I have no idea why more people are converting I guess I should ask them.

Michele Hansen  5:42 
I think it's a, you know, it's a, an easy thing to fall into. On a recent episode, we talked about loss aversion and how human beings are so much more motivated to try to avoid losing money, rather than making money. And I think feedback really plays into that, because most companies asked for feedback when somebody cancels, or if they give you a negative NPS score, or something like that, but not as many companies ask for feedback from people who are happy, which, you know, trying to find more people who are are happy, like your your current happy customers with similar processes and needs is much easier than trying to fix all of the people who don't like it. Like that's a tough hill to climb.

Colleen Schnettler  6:33 
Yeah, so I definitely will reach out to those people. I guess one by you know, I'll just, there's only 17 people, I can just email them and ask them.

Michele Hansen 6:43 
Yeah.

Colleen Schnettler  6:44 
it seems like I get better responses. If I don't ask open ended questions in email.

Michele Hansen  6:50 
What are the questions you're asking?

Colleen Schnettler  6:52 
So my first email which I was hand typing, which got maybe 10 to 20%? response was, Hey, my name is Colleen. From simple file upload. Do you need any help installing the service? Question mark? Please let me know. Thanks. And that got some responses. So then I was trying to be clever. And I thought, all right, people are more likely to respond. If it's just as simple at least I am. Like, if it's a simple question. So then this automated email I'm now sending out is completely different. It just says, hey, it's Colleen. I'm the creator of simple file upload. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. Can you answer one question for me? Are you using the JavaScript snippet or the React component? Thanks, Colleen. No one has responded to that.

Michele Hansen  7:37 
That's interesting.

Colleen Schnettler  7:39 
And I thought that was I don't know, I thought it was easy, right? Like, because they could just be like, oh, like, that's an easy thing to respond to. But 35 people have gotten it and zero responses.

Michele Hansen  7:49 
But maybe it's not a meaningful question to them. Yeah, maybe they don't. Yeah. And is that a meaningful question to you to like? Is the is the answer about their projects? And how they're finding it? Like maybe, maybe if that's even if it's a more difficult question, if it's a more meaningful question to them, and to you, maybe that's the question to ask, rather than an easy one that doesn't have as much impact.

Colleen Schnettler  8:15 
Okay, so I wanted to know, because I'm trying to decide how to spend my time. So I'm trying to decide. The reason I asked the question is, because I genuinely want to know, so throughout the customer interviews I was doing before the holidays, the people most excited about this seem to be front end developers, because that way they can, they never have to touch back end, they can literally get the CDN image without any configuration. And front end developers these days, a lot of them are using react. And so my react component really could use a little bit of work. And so I'm trying to decide if it's worth it for me to, to invest my time into working on the React component, and really beefing that up or if I should continue to focus on, you know, just marketing and installing with the JavaScript snippet. So that's why I asked that question, because I just genuinely want to know.

Michele Hansen  9:09 
So you're trying to figure out how to prioritize your time.

Colleen Schnettler  9:14 
Yes, basically, yes.

Michele Hansen  9:14 
You sometimes -- I find that actually saying that to people in the email saying, hey, like, you know, are using this one, you know, I asked, because I'm trying to figure out how to prioritize my development work between those two things, and hearing about how you're using it will help me understand how to make it better.

Colleen Schnettler  9:35 
That's a great idea. I'm gonna write that down,

Michele Hansen  9:37 
And also makes people feel important, and like their opinion is going to be what shapes this company. And that makes people want to reply.

Colleen Schnettler  9:44 
That's a great idea. You're right. I think that's a great idea. So I'm gonna go plaintext. And then I figure I'll try maybe a new one every week since I'm getting you know, 10 to 20 signups on an average week. I'll try a new email this week. So I'll do plain text. And I'll tell them, that's a great idea. Like, Hey, I'm wondering if you are using react or JavaScript, because I'm trying to figure out what is the most important thing to work on next? What do you think? And then maybe they'll tell me what they think the most important thing to work on next is, so maybe I will get like, maybe it'll start a conversation.

Michele Hansen  10:19 
Yeah, and I would try to find a way to phrase that, that makes it clear that you want to work on the thing, that's the most important for them. So not just that, I want to find the most impactful thing to work on next, I want to find the most impactful thing to for you, for me to work on next. Yeah, like, which is, you know, that framing is almost like more like client language like, and they're like, in the right, the way you would ask a client, hey, I have a choice between these three projects, like, which is the most impactful for you to meet to work on. But you can say it in this context, too. And even if you're asking 50 other people the same question, and you know, you're going to synthesize all that information and figure out, okay, you know, is it front end developers? Is it some other opportunity? Like, like, Where should I be focusing? But asking people, hey, what is the most impactful thing I could do for you? I find that makes people more willing to, to give feedback and, and give really constructive, nice feedback to like, they're appreciative of that.

Colleen Schnettler  11:25 
Yeah, that's a great idea. I'm definitely going to work on that. And I'll try that out to see if I can get more engagement on that. I, it's been really nice. So I've taken the entire week, I took the entire week, between Christmas and New Year's off. And it was really nice to get that space. And just kind of step back from all like the buisiness. I, this has been in the marketplace for about a month now. And I am feeling the developer challenge of just wanting to build more things. Like it irks me so much that I don't I don't optimize the images for you, like like that is hurting my soul that I'm not optimizing images. But I'm doing that for a very specific reason. Some people don't want me to optimize images. I think we talked about that. A couple weeks ago, some people aren't even using it for images. So for me to put the time in to do these particular things that might not even be a use a good use case. I'm trying to fight the urge. So so I'm really trying to fight the developer urge to like build more things. So I've been I've been really thinking about, like I mentioned, like how to prioritize my time in the most efficient way. And I've really had so much success with this marketplace, this traction channel, because I have had now it probably 50% of these people have, you know, removed the add on because they were just playing with it. But 90 signups in a month through Heroku and four signups in a month from the internet, like going through my site. Yeah, that's a huge difference. Yeah, so I've been trying to think I've been trying to one resist the urge to build more features until people tell me they want or need more features. And I've been trying to look at other marketplaces that I could get into because I feel like this is essentially a widget. I mean, this is like this would be great in like, the WordPress marketplace or something like that. So yes, I've just kind of been looking at other avenues to, to launch the product and try it, like I said, just trying to figure out how to prioritize in terms of that.

Michele Hansen  13:35 
What is the threshold from Heroku that allows you to start charging people for it one to 100 to 100,000.

Colleen Schnettler  13:41 
It's 100. But they have --

Michele Hansen  13:44 
Wait, so you're 10 people away from being able to charge people.

Colleen Schnettler  13:46 
No, because they have to be active users. So I'm 55 right now. So I'm averaging about 10 a week that stick around. So I'm hopefully in five more weeks. But five weeks is a long time. And there's a lot I could be doing in those in that time. There's other marketplaces that don't make you hit that threshold. And so I have all kinds of ideas. And I'm trying to, like, narrow the funnel of all my brilliant ideas.

Michele Hansen  14:13 
What is the growth rate look like in the Heroku marketplace? So we've mentioned how you're adding people like is it? Are you steadily getting 10 people to activate a week? Or is that rate increasing?

Colleen Schnettler  14:25 
So this week, it was a significant increase. But again, I don't know if that's because it's a holiday week, so more people are like playing around with it. Before this week, I've only been tracking it for three weeks. So it's hard to say. I can't tell if it's linear or not like based on this week. It's not linear. And I'm hoping us I know I said hoping a few times and hope is not I think I told you hope is not a strategy last week. But I've been kind of hoping I'm getting more signups because my documentation is better. But I am going to reach out to those people. So I don't know if it's listed. I don't know if it's exponential, I have no idea what it's gonna look like, since I only three weeks of data.

Michele Hansen  15:05 
So let's sit back for a second. You just told me that you took the entire week off?

Colleen Schnettler
Yeah.

Michele Hansen
And you still had all of these signups?

Colleen Schnettler
Yes, ma'am.

And as someone who has been making their income from client work, where you have to, you know, sort of be button chair in order to make money. How does that feel?

Colleen Schnettler  15:28 
Feels amazing. Can you imagine if Now, none of these people are paying me yet? But it feels amazing to get there.

Michele Hansen
Yeah.

Colleen Schnettler
And to have I mean, this is it's like I'm tasting the, you know, it's like I'm tasting it, like I'm tasting the the freedom of a product based business, because I build hourly when I, you know, when I work as a developer. And so like, this just feels like, it's gonna be freedom. And so much work, you know, has gone into it in the beginning to get it working. But it works. It works pretty well, not having any complaints. And so all I had to do was I checked my email, maybe except for Christmas, like, I would check my email every day. But generally speaking, like to have that many signups I was shocked, I was really excited. Like, wow, 38 people signed up in a week.

Michele Hansen  16:13 
That's amazing. And so what that tells me about your prioritization of thinking about which channels to go on, is that you could do basically nothing on Heroku, for the next three weeks, explore maybe another marketplace, I would caution you against spreading yourself too thin. But spend a couple of weeks on another marketplace, and then come back, and maybe you'll be out those 100 people, you know, a watched pot never boils, right.

Colleen Schnettler  16:50 
Yeah, I'm kind of thinking the same thing. I think like tweaking the email, like, there's a few things I can do now, in the Heroku marketplace that I haven't done so I can tweak the email, like we just discussed, there is a way to get people's emails, before they hit single sign on, you have to use there, they have a platform API, and it's a little convoluted, but I almost have that logic done. So I can hit them earlier in the sign on process. But outside of that, I think I was just gonna let it rest. I'm just gonna let it rest, obviously be available and try to email people and get as many people talking to me as possible. And so I have this like, kind of crazy, ridiculous idea, but I'm excited about it. Can I tell you?

Michele Hansen
Yes.

Colleen Schnettler
Okay, so here's something I've been thinking about a lot with SaaS businesses, especially in my space, like building widget, we're just not you guys. You guys fall outside of this category. But a lot of people in this space are just developer selling to other developers. But really, that's not a huge market develop. We, we if we could take our development skills, and sell to people that aren't developers, we'd be able to access so many more people. So what I was thinking was, I want to get into another marketplace. I don't know any other marketplaces like I know what they are. But I don't I'm not familiar with WordPress Dev, and I don't want to get into WordPress, I hate WordPress, I don't want to be in their marketplace, or any of these other platforms. So I need to become familiar with one if I'm going to get into it. So I thought it would be super fun to start my own Shopify store. So I have already bought the domain. You're looking at me funny, but think about it. Okay, so I can start a Shopify store. Most of shopping a Shopify app. Yeah. Yeah. Like a store, like sell t shirts. Like, I want to sell t shirts, or whatever you want.

Michele Hansen  18:44 
I'm confused.

Colleen Schnettler
Wait, what?

Michele Hansen
Cuz I know there's like a Shopify. Like, there's whole Shopify apps as a whole, right ecosystem, like, okay, thing, but I did not think you were going to sell t shirts direction. So you're gonna have to walk me through how this relates to.

Colleen Schnettler  18:58 
Okay, no, this is what happens when I take a week off. I have all these ideas. I'm like, I should do these things. But seriously, I've been thinking about this one for a whole week. And I think it's a good idea. Listen, so here's what we do. What if I started an actual legit Shopify store, like selling t shirts, I can drop ship t-shirts. Like I don't have to actually hold inventory. But it's not about the store. Like the point is not to have a Shopify store. The point is to build one, and then I'll blog about it on another domain, then I can also concurrently learn, you look stressed, just stay with me, Michelle, stay with me. Don't No, no, no, just I can concurrently learn Shopify development. So I can put my file uploader in the Shopify App Store and then I use my own file uploader on my Shopify store as an example of how to use it.

Michele Hansen  19:58 
There's a lot going on there. And I, when you're talking about getting into a new marketplace, I thought it was going to be a no-code thing like bubble or Zapier or something like that. I love the enthusiasm for this. But I think this is one to maybe like, throw it in Notion, put down all the enthusiasm, all the ideas, but put down all the ideas and that same list for things you could work on next, and then take a red pen to it and be brutal about your prioritization and find the things that are the least amount of work, and the most bang for your buck at this moment, and the most focused on what you're trying to do.

Colleen Schnettler  20:50 
Yeah, I don't disagree.

Michele Hansen  20:53 
I'm not saying don't do this. But I'm saying, you know, I tend to find that, like, when I get really enthusiastic about an idea, like, it's almost a bad sign. It's dangerous to like, get so enamored with an idea. And then it's like, then you're kind of, you know, bouncing around, you're like, I need to do that. And I can do this, and then it's like, hold on a minute, there's something much smaller, that we can do first, that will actually honestly have a lot more impact towards what we're trying to do, even though that other idea is very exciting and shiny, right?

Colleen Schnettler  21:28 
Well, it's very shiny, you're right. But also I was don't lose it,

Michele Hansen  21:30 
Like respect to the enthusiasm, respect to the idea, respect, the fun you had with generating that, capture all of it, like, make a whole board for it and outline all of the different things you would have to do. But I imagine there are things that are less tangential to, to what you're trying to do that could maybe come first, right.

Colleen Schnettler  21:55 
And that's the challenge is I don't want to be jumping into a new idea to the detriment of what I am currently working on. And you know, I don't want to always be like, Oh, I'm going to build a new thing, I'm going to build a new thing. But I've really liked this idea, because I get in the Shopify marketplace. And I know a couple like just randomly. I know a couple people who are like Instagram influencers. And those are the kind of people who are hustling to make money. So if I could actually have like a blog, it would not be for developers, it would be for like, Instagram influencers or something, I don't know, I'm just making it up as I go. But the idea would be almost to reach a different audience to be like, hey, there's all these people trying to hustle to make money. Like, let me show you how to set up a Shopify store.

Michele Hansen  22:39 
So there's definitely a space for finding a new audience, like we definitely started out with developers and then branched out from there. There's a lot of value in sort of fully saturating that audience until you move on to a next one.

Colleen Schnettler
Yeah.

Michele Hansen
And like we started out very focused on developers only only an API, really serving what they need, and understanding their their use case and their frustrations with other options. Before we really bridge into other things. So like, you know, half of our revenue comes from our API, and half of it comes from spreadsheet uploads, which is mostly like marketing people. And you know, people who don't want to work with an API for whatever reasons, oftentimes, developers if they have a huge list, but we maintain that developer focus early on very purposefully, because we wanted to make sure that we were slowly solving the problem for one group of people, before we moved on to something else rather than half or quarter, solving it for them, and then quarter, solving it for another group and quarter solving it for another group, because the problem that happens with that is that you need to wow those customers in order for them to tell other people about it and for you to grow. And if you're not fully solving their problem, then you're never going to get them to that like wow point where they're enthusiastic about it, and they're helping with your growth. And so I think this is really interesting. And you've had a lot of interest in serving non-developers, whether that's no code people or Instagram influencers. There's definitely market to be had there. But pick one group first. And even what we're talking about earlier, and you were saying how new is there difference between people who are using the JavaScript versus React and like front end developers versus back end developers? Like it doesn't even sound like the developer audience has been fully fleshed out as a customer group and fully solved yet.

Colleen Schnettler  24:47 
Yeah, that's true.

Michele Hansen  24:48 
I think you still have a lot more runway there to, to explore and grow into before you spread your wings a bit.

Colleen Schnettler  24:56 
Yeah, that's a really good point. So I'll keep you updated on All of my brilliant ideas. So what's been going on with you guys this week?

Michele Hansen  25:07 
You know, so your comments earlier about getting feedback from people and how to get good feedback from people reminded me of something that happened earlier this week. So something in question we've talked about in the past is how do you deal with feature requests?

Colleen Schnettler  25:23 
Right?

Michele Hansen  25:24 
And this is a big one that comes up, especially for the reasons we've just been talking about of how do you focus? How do you know what's important to people? All of that, how do you prioritize them together? And so somebody reached out with a feature request. And, you know, I asked him a couple of questions back, and their response was so good, like it was such catnip for us. And it really made me think about how like asking the right questions like we're talking about in the beginning, is, is really important, and how it's how hard it is. And so I thought I would kind of share what those questions were, yeah, that I asked. And then, and then we can talk a little bit about the book I've started reading.

Colleen Schnettler
Okay.

Michele Hansen
So somebody reached out to us with a feature request for a specific data append. So, you know, like, as you know, so we don't just do geocoding, we also work with all the other types of data that are basic-- that are basically only available if you have the coordinates. So the coordinates are sort of a doorway into other pieces of data by location, like, the time zone, for example. And so that's kind of a niche we focus on in the industry. And so someone reached out to us asking for another data append. And so I replied to them, and I'll just, I'll read you.

My reply to them. I said, Thank you for bringing this to our attention. You're the first person to ask us for this. This is really exciting. We always like to understand more on a deeper level, when people ask us to add data points, would you be able to shed some light on the context and use case here? In particular, some things I'm interested in? One, what is your current process for working with this data? How long does it take, which vendors and tools do you use and so forth? And to what is your end goal of getting this data I imagine it's for the sort of use case, but I'd love to hear more detail from your perspective.

And so I sent this back to them. And they sent me this response back that was so amazing that like walk through their full process, and like the struggles they have the current options and why they they don't like those options, and why they would like us to do it differently, and how this is impactful for their business. And it was so it was so awesome. And such a great example of using jobs to be done thinking for product development. And so I want to talk about the book I started reading. So I mentioned this a couple episodes ago how I've started reading the Jobs To Be Done Playbook by Jim Calbach. So this book was recommended to me by a friend who works at a Fortune 500, who I talked about UX stuff with a lot.

And and, and so jobs to be done. Basically, I'm going to do a quick little overview. Is that okay?

Colleen Schnettler
Yeah, go for it.

Michele Hansen
So it's this concept of basically understanding customer needs. And it's relatively new in the past 30 years or so. And the term really comes from Peter Drucker, who is a famous management thinker. And so he wrote in 1985 book, "some innovations based on process need to exploit incongruities, others demographics, indeed, process needs, unlike other sources of innovation, do not need to start out with an event in the environment, whether internal or external, it starts out with a job to be done." And so basically, the the the idea of this is that you have a process that you're trying to accomplish.

So I don't know if you've ever heard of the term milkshake marketing

Colleen
Nope. 

Michele
Okay, so this is a famous example from Clayton Christensen, who was a Harvard Business professor, who was one of the foremost was one of the foremost thinkers in in jobs to be done. He unfortunately died in early 2020. And, and there's this case study where he was working with McDonald's, and they were trying to figure out how to get more people to buy their milkshakes. 

Colleen
Okay. 

Michele
And they did some research and they found out that people were buying them first thing in the morning. Hmm, that's weird. And so they said, Why are you? Why are you buying the first thing in the morning and it's like, oh, well, people wanted something that they could eat on the way to work while they're driving. But that wasn't messy, like a bagel was too messy and a donut was too unhealthy. So they would get a milkshake and so They have this that. So their job there is to be fed on their commute, right? Like they have this commute anyway, and this is a big thing about jobs to be done is that we all have all of these activities and jobs that we're doing all the time, that exist, regardless of the product. So for example, 200 years ago, people may have hired cards and games to keep them busy on a Saturday night when they're at home. And now, we might hire Netflix for that same job. But that job has existed throughout time. And that's what makes it really interesting as a framework, that it's completely product agnostic. 

And so you're not asking for feedback about a specific product, you're instead asking for feedback about a process and how somebody gets something done. And so that milkshake example is a really famous one, though, as this book points out, which I love that McDonald's didn't actually use the feedback. And like if they had really used it, they would have introduced a protein shake, which they never did. 

But basically, the book defines jobs to be done as the process of reaching objectives under given certain circumstances. So you may have a job every day of, well, I guess, before the pandemic, like commuting to work, or making dinner like that's like you, these are things that you're trying to accomplish, and that you have a process that you go through all the time for these. And then where the real business opportunity comes in is if you can find a way to help people get that job done, faster, better, easier, or cheaper, then you have a winning product, right? Like a really simple example of this is like microwave dinners, right? Like, maybe we can argue that it's not a better way of accomplishing the job of eating dinner. But it's certainly easier and cheaper than assembling a meal. 

Colleen Schnettler  31:51  
For your questions that you asked in his email, which of the questions you asked is specifically trying to identify the job to be done?

Michele Hansen  32:00  
Yes, so the whole thing. So really, the the job to be done at the end is what is the end goal of what you're trying to do, right? 

Like, I always try to remind myself that, you know, geocoding, and are working with our product, that is not some somebody's goal is not to like get it set up with geocoding. Their goal is to make more sales or, you know, get a project on at work or what like whatever that is like we're just one stop on this train that they're on that's going to some end destination, right? And then so really understanding that whole journey that they're going through, like what is their process for working with this data? Where are the other places they're going to get it, where their difficulties with it? Where are they spending a lot of time because if we can do something that cuts off another one of those steps in the process, or makes it easier for them to get through the whole process, then we want a customer. And so, so this week, I just read the first the chapter and the intro. And I think you can tell how enthusiastic I am about it and how much I already love this book. So so so just like a quick highlights from this. 

So first one is people employ products and services to get their job done not interact with your organization. So the goal is not for them to use your code to the goal is not for them to use simple file upload, their goal is to do whatever it is they want to do that is independent of your product, right? Like if, if my goal is to eat dinner, like it doesn't necessarily my goal is not to have, right. Like it's, it's there's a need there that I'm trying to fulfill. 

Another one is that jobs are stable over time, even as technology changes. So I think you know that we just had Christmas, right? Like we can see how the, the job of being entertained as a child has been fulfilled in so many different ways over the year, years, whether that's hula hoops, or a Nintendo Switch, but like fundamentally, that same need to play is still there. And then people seek services that enable to get more of their job done quicker and easier. 

And then another really interesting thing that I love about this is that jobs to be done is not limited to just one discipline. So it's like not just a UX framework, not just a product strategy framework, not just for marketing. It can be used in all the different areas of a business and thinking about new features, thinking about how you deal with competitors. It definitely influences my thinking and all of that. 

And something I'm particularly excited about with this book is that they specifically said this book is for people who have limited resources and would like to use jobs to be done and lightweight manner, which I love. And I'm so excited to see how they unfold that in the book, because there are so many books about this that are basically trying to convince executives to hire really expensive consultants to figure this out for them. And as a bootstrapper, that's not really the situation I'm in. And so it's exciting to see a book that that recognizes that. That is not just a consultant trying to sell a book, or also a book written for companies with 100 person UX and research teams that can really spend the time on this. So I'm pretty psyched, though. 

I think I just dumped a ton of information on you. And you're looking at me.

Colleen Schnettler  35:45  
Yeah. Okay. That was a lot of information. It was good information, but it was a lot. So let's take what you just talked about, can you read us the email again, that you sent this this job that you got such a great response on? Can we circle back? Yeah, questions? Okay, go?

Michele Hansen  36:01  
Yes. So the person asked for a feature. So I replied, saying, one, what is your current process for working with this data? Okay, how long does it take, which vendors and tools are using and so forth? Okay. That's telling me about the process. If we're talking about the milkshake here, that's me asking, What time do you leave for work in the morning? What road are you taking? How long does it take you? What are you listening to? What are you thinking about? What what are you doing at that time? What aren't you doing at that time? What is the process you're going through? Okay? The second one is, what is the end goal of getting the data? Okay, so I'm so if we're talking about a commute here, the person's goal is not to sit in their car. It's not even to make it more enjoyable to sit in their car, it's to get to work,

Colleen Schnettler  36:47  
right.

Michele Hansen  36:49  
So I'm trying to figure out what is their equivalent of getting to work? And then what is that whole process for them? Because I know that they're stopping with my products some way along the way. But I know they're also going other places. And so how do I figure out what those other places are? And then if I can remove some of those steps and make it easier for them to get there faster, or with less hassle or less frustration, then that's a winning combination. Right?

Colleen Schnettler  37:17  
So you didn't actually ask them what they're doing with the data, when you describe jobs to be done. I interpreted that as like, what is the long term job? Like, what are you doing with my data?

Michele Hansen  37:32  
Well, they got into that. Okay, so in this case, it's, you know, related to sort of real estate and, and some sort of, like financial needs around it. Okay. Um, but yeah, that that is what they're using the data for. And because I think when you ask those process questions, and the goal questions, those sorts of answers tend to naturally come out, okay. It's like, Okay, well, here's why I'm really doing this. And anything is really interesting to note, like their initial email to us, was, please consider adding the ability to indicate like this, like x y&z it was one sentence, which I know from a developer perspective can often be like, What am I supposed to do with this information? Like, what does this mean? Like? Like, how does this prioritize compared to other things? How does this fit into, you know, like, my conception of who we are as a company, and like what we do and how we, how we help customers versus how competitors help customers, right. And so those questions made it very easy for us to hone in on. Okay, like, what, like, what unique opportunity is there for us here? Because making it easier for people to connect to different types of data is something that we really focus on. Again, it's because it's a very process driven perspective. On on product strategy.

Colleen Schnettler  38:58  
Yeah. So what I'm hearing from this, I'm loving this, like this, this makes great sense. And the way you described it, I think, is really good. So my takeaway for me for this week is going to be to try to get someone to respond to my emails. I'm gonna take I was actually writing down a few, a few tricks, a few tips when you were describing that. So I'm going to kind of take the information we were just talking about, and put it in an email to see if I can get get people to respond and kind of see, you know, if trying to, you know, focus on the job, per the book, right, the job to be done, will help engage people in in letting me know what they need.

Michele Hansen  39:39  
And I don't know if you would conceptualize it of this, but I very much see jobs to be done and what you are trying to do, and how the whole point of simple file upload is to make this process easier for people and how your frustration was driven by you're looking at your whole process of trying to build a client website. This one particular station on that journey was repetitive and time consuming, and just really annoying. And you decided to make that particular station easier. And so now the question is okay, how can we make sure that that station is, you know, it's sort of fully built out, and it does what it needs to do. But then also, are there other places along the way that are adjacent to that, that you can nip off so that you're only just eliminating one step? you're eliminating three steps, right? And making all of those so much faster and so much easier? 

Colleen Schnettler
Yeah. 

Michele
And and I just find this makes prioritization so much easier when I can see Oh, okay, they're doing this other thing, right before and that vendor makes it super hard to get the data, the one after us, like, you know, it takes a really long time. Okay, that's a unique opportunity for us that nobody else is focusing on. And yeah, like, that's really frustrating for you. And I find that really motivating too, because it really, you know, a lot of people talk about using empathy in business, but there's not a whole lot of resources on how you actually apply that. And I find jobs to be done to be a very concrete way of using that set of tools to figure that out. And then how does this apply to a business? How does this give you a strategic advantage? 

Colleen
That's awesome. 

Michele
So I'm super psyched for this book, I promise that I will talk slower next time. Because this is the stuff that just like, you know, hits me in the heart and, and and I love working with because it was it was just so transformative for me when I first learned about it a couple years ago, so it's exciting stuff. And it helps us ask the right questions, which is, I guess, something we both are trying to do. 

Colleen Schnettler  41:53  
Absolutely. Well, that's gonna wrap up this week's episode of the Software Social Podcast. Thank you for joining us. You can reach us on Twitter at @softwaresocpod


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